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Coyotes come home, prepare for inclement weather

The Arizona Coyotes finally return to Gila River Arena with a Thursday night matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Coyotes played eight straight games on the road. They finally have returned to the friendly confines of Gila River Arena and now prepare to take on the Carolina Hurricanes. Can the Coyotes continue their winning ways? Can Carolina break a three game winning streak? These, plus many more questions will be answered tonight.

Matchup at a Glance

Arizona Coyotes Carolina Hurricanes
Points 44 (6th Pacific) 41 (8th Metropolitan)
Goals per game 2.29 (26th) 2.12 (29th)
Goals against per game 3.28 (29th) 2.58 (t-14th)
Power play % 22.9 (6th) 16.8 (t-22nd)
Penalty kill % 76.9 (27th) 87.1 (2nd)
Corsi for 5v5* 48.7 (24th) 50.7 (t-16th)
PDO* 97.0 (30th) 97.4 (29th)

*per War-on-Ice.com

The View from Carolina

The Hurricanes come into Glendale losers of three straight games. The good news for Carolina is that two of those losses came in extra time, including Tuesday night's 5-4 loss in OT to Anaheim. The Hurricanes find themselves in a very similar position to the Coyotes. They got off to such a poor start that their postseason chances are all but nil. No one wants to lose, but every point takes you further away from prime position in the Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel sweepstakes. It's a tough line to walk and the Hurricanes have been doing it throughout 2015.

They ended December by losing their last three games. They then won their first two games of 2015. Following that short little patch of success, they alternated wins and losses over the next five games. Starting with a victory over Ottawa on January 17, they won three in a row before being stuck in their current three game winless skid. They are 5-2-3 in the last ten, so they are at least getting points.

The Canes are led offensively by longtime goal scoring stalwart Eric Staal. He has 16 goals and 31 points on the season despite missing time due to injury. Carolina has struggled offensively, with only four players scoring at least 20 points on the season: Staal, All Star dman Justin Faulk, Elias Lindholm and Riley Nash.

The View from Arizona

The Coyotes return to Gila River Arena winners of two in a row and three of their last four games. They started the season 0-17-0 when trailing after two periods, but during the road trip, they were able to make some comebacks, going 2-3-1 when down entering the third. The power play was highly effective on the trip, cashing in seven times on 21 chances for a 33% conversion rate. The penalty kill was improved as well, stopping 23 of 26 opportunities (88.5%).

Arizona will be looking for revenge and redemption from an awful performance against Carolina earlier this season. The Coyotes went to Raleigh on November 1st and were dominated 3-0. Lindholm scored his first two goals of the season in that game and it was goaltender Cam Ward's only shutout of the season and his first since March 27th, 2012.

Keys to the Game

  • Come out ready to play. It would be easy for the Coyotes to show up and expect Carolina to roll over. The Coyotes haven't had a home game since mid-January and can't sputter out of the gates. Give the fans a reason to stay in the game and start strong.
  • Play a hard game. The Coyotes can't overlook Carolina. They need to play with the intensity they showed in the first two periods against the Blue Jackets, not the last 20 minutes.
  • Home cookin'. The Coyotes went 2-4 on their last homestand. They got outscored 22-14. With momentum from the end of the roadtrip on their side, it's time to start winning on home ice again.

Who's Hot

The Hurricanes have been led offensively in recent games by Brad Malone. Malone has at least one point in six of the past seven games, tallying four goals and two assists in that period. He had 11 points in 86 career games before this stretch.

The Coyotes will be led into action by leading point man Keith Yandle. The alternate captain has at least one assist in eight of the last nine games, with 10 total in that span. He may not be getting goals, but Yandle's 32 assists have him tied with Kevin Shattenkirk and Mark Giordano for the league lead in helpers from blueliners.

Injury Report

The Hurricanes are almost at full stength, with the only listed injury to goalie Cam Ward, who is questionable for the game after being held out of practice Wednesday with a lower body injury. If he can't go, Anton Khudobin will assume the crease.

Arizona is short Mikkel Boedker, who is short one spleen. Martin Hanzal is questionable with an upper body injury. Joe Vitale is also questionable, having missed the last four games with the dreaded upper body injury, but he did skate on his own Wednesday, so he is close to a return.

Puck Drop

Now that the eastern road trip is finished, the Coyotes will return to playing at a more civilized start time of 7pm Arizona time. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona and will be on the airwaves ESPN Phoenix 620 AM.